Monday, March 24, 2014

Public Records Request

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16 Millstone Blvd, Barre, VT 05641

(802) 272-8544


Bob Rusten, Chief Administrative Officer, City of Burlington

149 Church Street

Burlington, VT 05401


Date:   March 24, 2014


Re:       Freedom of Information – Public Records Request


Mr. Rusten -


In addition to coming Friday to review additional documents and an updated exemption log, this message hereby specifically extends the range of times covered by all of VFSC's public records requests, on all subjects and records responsive to such records requests, up through and including the date of this message.


In other words, to the extent that the searches, records provided, and materials alleged to be exempt by the City have thus far been up through and including any of VFSC's requests in late 2013, or any other date before today, we now want all records within such the subjects and parameters of any and all VFSC requests to date, for records created or acquired up through and including today.


Inasmuch as VFSC's initial records request in September also gave clear notice of the potential of pending or threatened litigation, and as clearly and correctly acknowledged in an early October memorandum from Scott Schrader to the City Council and others, the City should be preserving, and not discarding or deleting, any such records up through now, and in the future, and until all legislative and potential post-legislative litigation issues are concluded, or VFSC releases the notice of litigation hold.


VFSC makes this additional extension of its earlier records requests without waiving or conceding any other rights or remedies.


Further, VFSC requests, per Title 1, Chapter 5, Subchapter 3, any and all any written or recorded information, regardless of physical form or characteristics that reflects any and all resources expended by the City of Burlington from January 1, 2012 through the date of this letter - such as time of any employees, and compensation information for all such employees, along with any and all sums paid to individuals or entities other than the City - in connection with the City's contemplation, exploration, or pursuit of any and all measures that, if enacted, would in any way result in any restriction on firearms or ammunition in Burlington or anywhere else in Vermont.

VFSC also requests a full and complete copy of any records relating to proposed charter changes that the City has submitted to any public employee or official (whether elected or appointed, and at any level of government, both state and local, and in any branch) following the March 2014 vote.


Finally, VFSC requests a count of any/ all records still awaiting review or release to VFSC.



Evan Hughes

Vice President - Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs


CC:       Burlington City Mayor - Miro Weinberger

            Burlington City Chief of Staff – Mike Kanarick

Burlington City Attorney - Eileen Blackwood

Burlington Assistant City Attorney - Eugene Bergman

Burlington City Councilors


Saturday, March 8, 2014

VTFSC Stance on H735

The Federation’s Current Stance on H.735

Late last year, the Federation was approached by the Administration as to what our general stance would be on the creation of a process that would allow for the storage of firearms in situations involving Domestic Abuse, and we were told that this was a high-priority of the Governor.  As described to us at that time, this suggested statute would only put into place a procedure for handling a storage process and related fees, it would do nothing else. 

As the Federation DOES see that there can be a legitimate need for a defined storage process in certain situations, but certainly not all situations, the Federation DID indicate that this could be something that we could support, and that initial stance has not changed. 

As it left the House, the Federation does not support H.735 as there are several serious concerns, with Due Process being one of them.  Whether the Federation can support the final language of H.735 is unclear at this time for the simple reason that the language of this bill WILL change; the Federation is actively working to change it, we are being successful in changing it, and this simple fact drives certain people nuts.  People like Representative Linda Waite-Simpson for example.

As a result of the knowledge that it WILL change, it would be imprudent and confusing to issue “For” or “Against” statements as it progresses, as this could literally change day-by-day as new language is considered.  Further, we find that making any statement “For” or “Against” tends to follow along with the bill itself, and in witness of that we only need to look at the fact that the Federation at one point said we could support a storage mechanism, we made that statement BEFORE THE LANGUAGE OF THE BILL WAS EVEN INTRODUCED, and yet the word is being spread – apparently even amongst our allies and friends - that we blindly support H.735 with its current problems.

In point of fact, it is clearly possible for this bill to be corrected sufficiently so that, perhaps, almost all of “our side” could support it; assuming of course that other pro-2nd Amendment groups could get behind the general concept of supporting JUST the creation of a Storage Procedure and related fees.

And now comes the VT Digger Article.  Ms. Waite-Simpson WANTS the language as it left the House, she WANTS the Federation to lose credibility and she WANTS to sow dissension amongst our ranks.  It even appears that she wants to take shots at the Governor who has taken a stance of “no new gun laws”, something that Waite-Simpson simply can’t stand.  It is not coincidence that the article was released on Friday, the last day of the week BEFORE the rally; the last day BEFORE the Legislature returns, the last day BEFORE next week’s Federation’ Legislative Mixer.

This release was planned, it was specifically designed to discredit and attempt to contain the Federation’s strong influence in steering H.735 back to what we understood was the initial goal, and it additionally serves to drive a wedge between the Federation and our allies.

Ms. Waite-Simpson’s credibility is severely in question, and it is rather amazing to us that anyone would put any credence into the words of a woman who clearly has a conflict of interest between being an elected official AND a paid lobbyist; a woman who often has a great deal of difficulty with basic facts; a woman who has outright lied on more than one occasion.

YES, the Federation supports the concept of providing a safe storage procedure, IN CERTAIN INSTANCES, IF CONSTITUIONAL ISSUES ARE ADDRESSED.  NO, we would never support any legislation that stepped on our constitutional rights, and we take huge exception to those that would suggest our loyalties lie elsewhere or who paint us as the “enemy”.

Chris Bradley, Acting President of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The three Burlington Gun Control Ordinanes Proposals passed...BTV phase is over

The results are in and all three gun control ballot issues passed.
Now the BTV phase of this battle is over. 
The vote count available now is down below.
Their ball, their court, their ref, their rules, their refs, their timekeeper,
their scorekeeper and their scoreboard in BTV. It won't be that way
in the state house and our guys will be very motivated.
BTV city hall knows it has been in a fight.  It will be a whole different
game in the state house.  The legislators will be able to see what was
is actually in the proposed gun control ordinances and not just the limited
language listed on the ballot.
The Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs conducted a campaign
to make the public aware of what was actually in Burlington's proposed
gun control ordinances. This was done to off-set the misinformation
about what was really in the proposed gun control resolutions.  
These proposed gun control ordinances are an attack on our vital
Vermont Sportsmen's Bill of Rights.  This is law we must defend.
The three gun control ordinances are not based on sound public policy, and
are certainly in contempt of the state and federal constitution. These ballot
issues are the work of politicians playing political shenanigans and nothing
Many thanks for the folks who funded and helped with the radio ads, lawn
signs and Burlington Free Press full page ad that ran on Sunday
Seize firearms at domestic investigations:
Yes: 5,579
No:  2,066
Bar firearms from First Class Liquor License Establishments
Yes: 5,194
No:   2,517
Locking up guns in homes
Yes: 4,351
No:   2,971

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A new question about Burlington's City Council President Shannon's explanation to WPTZ accurate?

                                      Another Question about Burlington City President Shannon's Explanation
                                                A question about an entirely different Shannon Explanation
                                 Would you like to ask other Burlington City Council members for their thoughts?

On Sunday night's WPTZ Channel 5, News at 6 PM broadcast, Burlington City Council President Joan Shannon
about an E-mail discussion between and her Charter Change Committee Chair Rachel Siegel.
You look at the quote down below, from Joan Shannon said to WPTZ .  She is wrong. There were no "employed
lobbyist" of the "gun industry" at the January 7th meeting or any other Burlington City Council public hearing.  Nor at
the Charter Change Committee meetings.  So, there certainly weren't "a lot of people by employed by the gun lobby" there.
“There are a lot of people who are employed by the gun lobby who show up during the day,” she said. “It was merely an estimate of how many people would show up. Usually nobody shows up for Charter Change Committee meetings, and I noted that in a meeting about guns, you can draw a crowd.”
She parrots the mantra of the gun control advocates that anybody who opposes their agenda is from the "gun industry"
or gun "lobby" She just can not grasp that all of those people who show are Vermonters who are protecting their rights.
Protecting their Vermont Sportsmen's Bill of Rights.                        Was Shannon's explanation accurate. You decide? 
Carefully read the WPTZ article accompanies the video.  The WPTZ article has much more information than the video. 
You just might want to drop an E-mail to the folks at Burlington City Hall. You can just place the
question below in the subject line and lift the E-mail addresses to send an E-mail to these officials
to give them a change to chime in on the extreme contrast between her explanation and her E-mail.
All of the members of the city council need to have your questions posed so that they have grounds to challenge the accuracy of the statements/explanations of their city council president. 
Just politely ask: "Does Joan Shannon really believe her gun lobby E-mail explanation?"  Their E-mail addresses are below.


Monday, March 3, 2014

BTV City Councilors want Burlington to be just like MA, NY and CT

If you think the cartoon below about MA guns laws is funny, just consider that the

City of Burlington wants to bring MA, NY and CT gun laws to all of Vermont, in its gun control

attack on the Vermont Sportsmen's Bill of Rights.  24 VSA Section 2295.

 Burlington City Councilor Vince Brennan to a fellow Councilors Shannon & Rachel Siegel, sent via email on 9/17/2013 @ 14:24 PM

In all seriousness we need any help we can get.  I have attached the proposed charter changes and an excel spreadsheet of current laws in neighboring states.  Personally, I would like to see Burling[ton] look more like MA, NY & CT.  says Vince Brennan
 And we know how the laws are in those states.

WPTZ Story: You decide if Burlington's City Council President Shannon gave an accurate answer to WPTZ

On Sunday night's WPTZ Channel 5, News at 6 PM broadcast, Burlington City Council President Joan Shannon
said the discussion between and her Charter Change Committee Chair Rachel Siegel were scheduling the meetings
for a specific purpose with regard to the degree of public attendance. 
You look at the quote down below, which is from the Joan Shannon to Rachel Siegle E-mail.  That is an attachment
to this E-mail.  Then compare it to Joan Shannon's explanation of the E-mail to the WPTZ reporter.  Link to her
explanation is below.  Is her answer accurate, you decide? 
“No one shows up to Charger Change meetings... unless you're talking guns,” Shannon responds. “[T]hen a lot of people show up, I assume. Midday/Midweek might keep the crowd down, but there seem to be plenty of people who are employed during the day by the gun industry.”

Read more:

Attached, please find a PDF file which is a un-altered printout of an email between President Shannon and Charter Chair Siegel which was obtained during the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs’s, Public Records Request.
Below, please find a section of s larger report that VFSC has been working on concerning the PRR request and the information uncovered. 
The larger report, while still not complete, proved that there was no groundswell of requests for action, it proved that email input Against the gun control ordinances outnumbered those  For in excess of 10:1, it showed such things as the huge number of interactions from MAIG, it detailed other possible issues/violations of Open Meeting law, it showed preferential inclusion and pandering to the “antis”, it contains extensive documentation on the failings of the City to comply with a public records request (blown timelines, bungled searches that we had to correct them on, failure to provide certain documents until specifically request, “holding” documents that might have exemptions/redactions, statements that documents would be delivered but weren’t, the fact that there are now 616 exempted/redacted documents. 
On January 7th, a very large crowd of gun rights supporters attended and despite Public Input which was 100% percent against the proposed Assault Weapons Ban resolution brought forward by Councilor Blais, the City Council voted 10-3 to move forward with the resolution by placing it with the Burlington City Council’s Charter Change Committee for further development.  This further development was intended to craft the supporting language, with the goal being to move this back and then through the Council, and ultimately bring it to the Burlington voters at the 2014 Town Meeting for a vote.
Burlington records show that on 1/24/2013, Charter Committee Chair Rachel Seigel asks City Council President Joan Shannon via email if Shannon is aware of how many people show up at Charter Committee Meetings.  In this email Siegel relates her concern that the “gun issue could pull in a few people”; she informs President Shannon that she is considering holding the meetings during the day, and she then further indicates that she believes that “Maybe this will keep the crowd down.
President Shannon then responds to that email with the comments of “No one shows up to Charter Change meetings...unless your talking guns....then a lot of people show up, I assume.  Midday/ Midweek might keep the crowd down…”.
Burlington records show that of 17 meetings of the Charter Change Committee held between January and mid-November 2013, all of which were scheduled by Charter Change Committee Chair Rachel Siegel, only two of these meetings were held at 5PM or later, and those two meetings agenda’s indicated no discussion of firearms. 

Of the 14 Charter Change Committee meetings at which issues pertaining to firearms were discussed (they typically lasted 1 hour):
·         One (1) was scheduled for 11:00 AM,
·         Eight (8) were scheduled for 11:30 AM
·         Three (3) were scheduled for Noon
·         One (1) was scheduled for 3:00 PM
·         One (1) was scheduled for 4:00 PM.
In order to insure public involvement, meetings should and must be scheduled with an eye towards the inclusion of the working public, not purposeful exclusion or for the sole convenience of the scheduler.  Chair Siegel conceived the concept to limit public participation, she then colluded with Council President Shannon to limit public participation, and the record then shows that Chair Siegel then enacted her plan to limit public participation.  The record further shows that the record(s) show that scheduling meetings during the day was problematic for Charter Change Committee Member Bram Kranichfeld (who was an initial member of the Charter Change Committee and who expressed via email that meetings during the day would be problematic for him due to his work (see email of 2/16/2013 11:11 AM)), such that he could not make several scheduled meetings.
Title 1 VSA § 314(a) states:  “A person who is a member of a public body and who knowingly and intentionally violates the provisions of this subchapter or who knowingly and intentionally participates in the wrongful exclusion of any person or persons from any meeting for which provision is herein made, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not more than $500.00. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Full Page Ad running in the Burlington Free Press on Sunday

                    Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs
                               Burlington Free Press Ad
Today the Burlington Free Press has a full-page ad paid for by the VFSC
and opposing the three proposed gun control ordinances articles on the
Burlington ballot on Tuesday.  The ad is an attachment to this E-mail.
From the radio ads that have been running on several radio stations in
the Burlington area and beyond, the lawn signs displayed in Burlington,
to this BFP ad, all are the product of lots of work and the funds donated
by many Vermonters who believe freedom is always worth protecting. 
The radio ads and BFP ad were necessary to outset the misinformation
being published about the actual content of the proposed ordinances.
Burlington has used their Town Meeting Day ballot to attack our
Vermont Sportsmen's Bill of Rights, which prevents a patchwork
of confusing and conflicting municipal laws that ban/regulate guns,
shooting, hunting, reloading, fishing and trapping.  Ranges are protected.
Burlington politicians and gun control activist have been very clear
that they are using Burlington as their starting point for going after the
Vermont Sportsmen's Bill of Rights.  Our folks should vote every time
the polls are open.   On Tuesday, the Burlington voters who want to
protect their freedom need to cast their votePlease Vote "No on 6,7,8"

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Seven Days Article on Burlington Gun Control ballot issues on Tuesday...

Mr. Heintz keeps saying the article would "ban guns from bars" when it would even ban unloaded guns from the parking lots
of bars, hotels, motels and restaurants.  It would not even exempt off-duty police officers.  Stop for a meal and get arrested?
90 days in jail, a fine, and seizing of any firearms?  Burlington voters, "Vote No on Articles 6, 7, 8"
For Shumlin and Legislature, a Potential Choice Between Gun Rights and Local Control

Posted by on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 8:48 AM

click to enlargeGov. Shumlin speaks at a Montpelier press conference Wednesday. - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Gov. Shumlin speaks at a Montpelier press conference Wednesday.
The most interesting test for Burlington's three gun-related charter change proposals could come well after voters have their say next Tuesday.

That's because, like any change to the city's charter, all three measures would require affirmative votes by the legislature and the signature of Gov. Peter Shumlin. And while Vermont lawmakers have studiously avoided any debate of gun-related matters since a mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school 14 months ago, Shumlin has made perfectly clear that he opposes new gun regulations of any kind.

So what would happen if Burlingtonians approve the measures, which would ban guns from bars, require them to be locked when stored and allow the police to confiscate them from those suspected of domestic abuse?

According to Rep. Donna Sweaney (D-Windsor), who chairs the House Government Operations Committee, any of the three proposals that garner a majority vote on Town Meeting Day next Tuesday would be reviewed by the attorney general's office and then the secretary of state's office. After being introduced in the House by a local lawmaker, they would likely land in her committee.

Would lawmakers vote on the charter changes based upon the merits of the proposals — or would they respect the outcome of a local vote?

"We typically try to respect the local decision," Sweaney said Wednesday. "Although we have refused a couple where there were serious process issues or ambiguity in the language."

No matter what, she says, "I think we would have a lot of discussion about it, definitely, if it comes. We'll have to take a lot of testimony and there will be a lot of discussion about it."

As for Shumlin, who earned a 92 percent rating from the National Rifle Association two years ago and opposes any new state gun laws, the question appears more difficult to answer. If both houses of the legislature were to vote in favor of allowing Burlington to change its charter, the governor would have to decide whether to make use of his veto pen.

"You know how I feel about [gun laws] and I don't need to restate it, because there's been absolutely no change in what I've always told you," Shumlin said at a Montpelier press conference Wednesday. "What I do know is that I am a big believer in local control, and I believe that people should make their decisions locally. I'm not going to speculate on what decisions [Burlington voters] might make, because I don't want to influence those decisions. Obviously, if in fact a bill comes to my desk, I'd be happy to talk about it at that time."

So how exactly would he reconcile those two competing views — opposition to new gun laws and support for local control — if Burlingtonians were to back the charter changes?

"I'm supportive of local control," he said. "I didn't say that I agreed with Burlington on this issue, so I'm going to let local control do its work and see what comes out."

Pressed again by the Burlington Free Press' Terri Hallenbeck about whether, generally speaking, the legislature should approve a charter change favored by locals, Shumlin said that Vermont's founders "wisely set up our charter system... so that local control makes one judgment and then the legislature and the governor have the job of asking: 'Does this make sense in light of all the other communities across Vermont?'"

"So," he concluded, "we'll do our job if we need to, but I'm not going to speculate on whether we'll have to weigh it because I don't know whether it's going to pass, and I don't want to influence that."